The First Blue Laws 1629 – Sunday Closing Law

The First Blue Laws 1629 Sunday Closing Law

The First Blue Laws 1629 - Sunday Closing Law - This 1895 political cartoon illustrates the restrictions imposed by Blue Laws.
The First Blue Laws 1629 – Sunday Closing Law – This 1895 political cartoon illustrates the restrictions imposed by Blue Laws.

Constantine the Great (c. 272–337), Samuel Peters (1735–1826), J. Hammond Trumbull (1821–1897)

Laws prohibiting certain secular activities on days of religion existed in antiquity, although their colorful name only appeared recently. Commentators credit the first Sunday Closing Law to Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, who issued an edict in 321 ordering city citizens to rest “on the hallowed day of the sun.”

In 1629, the House of Burgesses of Virginia passed the first Sunday Closing Law in the United States, stating that “the Sabbath day be not customarily profaned by working in any imployments or by going from place to place.”

However, according to etymologists, the word “blue laws” was first used in a satire of Connecticut Congregationalists in the New-York Mercury on March 3, 1755: “Since… the Revival of our old Blue Laws, we have the Pleasure to see the Lord’s Work carry on with Success.”

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